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Royals, Fowler and Adamski

POSTED March 20, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                            Royals, Fowler and Adamski

 The orange sneakers, the pink tie, the big smile. Trademarks easily attached to three people who have made our winters that much more special in recent years – Torrington High’s Sarah Royals, Lewis Mills coach Dennis Fowler and Lewis Mills center Amanda Adamski respectively.

            All three are moving in different directions now, Royals and Adamski with only a spring season separating them from the college scene and Fowler off to spend more time with his two-year old blonde bundle of beauty, Juliet. In Royals and Adamski’s case their high school day is done, the scrapbook is full. For Fowler this is a basketball intermission.

            You would remember them without the ball. Royals will forever be thought of in part for those gaudy treads that stuck out like a pumpkins in an empty field. Fowler’s snazzy attire that included a little dipsy-doo on the hair front to go with his colorful attire isn’t going away. And Adamski just always seemed to be happy.

            But the nice thing is that more than anything their legacy is what they did with the ball or in Fowler’s case with the people that had the ball. They gave us game, big-time game, that’s what we will miss and remember at the same time.

            Royals, always the competitor in a blood line of competitors that included sisters Jennifer and Michelle, leaves as the Red Raiders’ all-time leading girls leading scorer with 1,605 points. In a school that has seen the likes of Christine Strawson, Claudia Rizzi, Tina Shanahan and, Erika Fritch to name a few of the All-Stars who filled the basket with regularity, that is noteworthy.

            You played Torrington you dealt with Sarah Royals, there was no way around it. In a league where Holy Cross has dominated and Kennedy had its run with Amber Alberto a couple of years ago, there were no titles for Torrington but the Raiders have always been near the top and Royals has been a big part of that.

            It isn’t the three-point shot or the stop-and-pop that has been the forte, although it was in the arsenal. It was the slashing drives to the hoop and the ability to get to the foul line that drove opponents nuts.

            You will always be able to conjure up the image of the sleek guard in the knee pads and black head band shaking and baking and storming to the hoop more often than not the end result a three-point play or a couple of foul shots.

            The career if not defined will always be highlighted by `The Play.’ That’s all you will have to say to people five, 10, 20 years down the road. They’ll know what you are talking about. The four-point play, the miracle-maker that stunned Holy Cross in the Connie Donahue gymnasium and became an internet sensation.

            Three points down, four seconds left, the length of the court to navigate. Royals takes the ball, dribbles just inside the half court line and shoots herself into lore when her shot seemingly guided by radar careens off the board and through the net.

            Fouled on the play, there was never a doubt as she drilled a foul shot to add the final euphoric touch to the most unlikely of endings. A pure Royals’ moment.

            When Royals fouled out in the Class L semifinals to E.O. Smith and had to watch the final two minutes, she never sat down. And when it was over, Torrington coach Mike Fritch quickly found her and gave her a hug four years in the making while whispering in her ear.

            “I told her that I hoped all the yelling was worth it. I was probably hardest on her because I knew what she was capable of, Fritch revealed.”

            In you look at Royals’ career which now continues at the University of Albany, it was certainly worth it for the fans and you hope for her too. Yeh, she will always be the kid with the orange sneakers. But mostly we will remember that she was the kid with the very big game who just happened to wear the bright footwear.

            Not far down the road at Mills, Adamski did her thing. There is the image of her giving super guard and teammate Nicole Bisson, a piggy-back ride after the Spartans downed Thomaston for the Berkshire League Tournament title, a smile about the size of Hulk Hogan’s bicep right up front and center.

            Friendly, seemingly imperturbable, basketball always has seemed to carry that kind of joy for Adamski. Of course it helps when you have a crew of classmate teammates like Bisson, Katherine Bayne and Tara Plocharczyk that combined to create an undefeated BL season your senior year that results in a 25-1 record and nearly a spot in the Class M championship game.

            Like playing Torrington and preparing for Royals , you played Mills you had better prepare for Adamski. Good size, all the moves down low, most of the time the preparation wasn’t enough.

            She passed the 1,000-point mark early in the season while leading the league in scoring (17.0) and was a matchup problem for every team in the league. As Fowler put it, “She is one of the best centers to play in this league in years.”

            Who would argue?  In the first meeting against Thomaston, Adamski was nearing the 1,000 point mark in the second half while the Spartans were winning by a big margin. Fowler wanted his center to break the mark at home with the next game on the road. On agreement with Thomaston coach Bob McMahon, Adamski stayed in the game.

            McMahon understood two things – the situation and Adamski.

            “I told (Dennis) it was fine with me,” McMahon said at that time. “Amanda is a great kid and she is good for the league.”

            That’s called respect folks. For the kid and her game. Like Royals, Adamski left her mark on the court. The smile punctuated it.

            That brings us to Fowler. Affable and energetic with a keen basketball mind, the youthful Mills coach has always brought a positive approach to the game. He leaves for now although he will continue to guide the Spartans’ juggernaut of a girls soccer program.

            Fowler has beaten a brain tumor and suffered a crushing loss in the final three seconds of the Class M soccer championship. He hit a shot to win a state championship back in 1995. His life has been a diverse cornucopia of extremes at times.

            He brings a smile to the gym. He coaches wins and winners. Seven seasons with a record to 136-32. The first undefeated regular season in school history. And he has always done it with class.

            Nobody overachieved more than Thomaston this season, posting a 19-5 record after losing all five starters from a year ago. It was Fowler who took it upon himself to send McMahon a note complimenting his team on its gritty effort. That’s Fowler.

            He wants to spend time with his family. You would expect nothing less. We are a little prejudiced in our profession. We like people who make our job easier. Fowler has always made our job easier.

            Phone calls, e-mails, updates. He has given them all to us. He will talk before the game and after the game. He has a journalism background and I expect to see him at the very least dabble in the profession in the future. He is a knowledgeable natural.

            Like the court without Royals and Adamski, there will be a twinge watching Mills without Fowler next season. Yep, we will miss the pink tie, the flashy attire. But more than anything we will miss him.

            At least with Fowler we still get him in soccer. Royals and Adamski we will have to remember. But they all have giving us much to remember them by.

            So we say good-bye, good job and good luck. It has been our pleasure. 

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